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Government-Backed 'Day of Hate' In Tehran

02/18/11 Report by RFE/RL; photos by Mehr News Agency

A government-sponsored demonstration being held in Tehran's Enghelab Square is providing regime supporters the opportunity to counter opposition activists, who this week staged their first sizeable street protests in months. Similar rallies are also taking place in other Iranian cities, state television reported.

Worshippers called for the death of
opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi

Iranian authorities earlier appealed to supporters to stage anti-opposition rallies and "scream out their hatred, wrath, and disgust" against what they called "sedition" leaders.

Iranian state TV showed large crowds moving toward the square immediately after Friday prayers. Men and women were shown carrying placards and portraits of supreme leaders past and present, and chanting slogans against the United States and Israel.

Iranian state television aired live interviews with protesters who accused the two main leaders of the opposition Green movement, Mir Hossein Musavi and Mehdi Karrubi, of responsibility for all deaths and bloodshed in Iran in the past two years.

Calls For Execution

Protesters also demanded Musavi and Karrubi, who are now reportedly under house arrest, to be executed.

Representatives of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khomenei and mosque imams in different provinces joined calls to punish Musavi and Karrubi following the antigovernment protest on February 14.

Two students were killed in the course of that demonstration, and many more injured.

Opposition activists and students say the two men, Mohammad Mokhtari, 22, and Sane'e Jaleh, 27, were shot dead by security forces. State media, however, claim Jaleh was a loyal member of the Basij volunteer militia, and that he was killed by opposition protesters. Opposition activists have denied the claim and accused authorities of "hijacking" their martyr.

Iranian parliamentarians on February 15 demanded Musavi and Karrubi be prosecuted and face execution by hanging for their roles in organizing rallies.

The state Prosecutor-General's Office has said the judiciary will "firmly and swiftly" deal with those behind the antigovernment protests.

The chief of Iran's judiciary, Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, said this week that the body is taking steps against Musavi and Karrubi. Larijani said the judiciary -- while taking "Islamic compassion" into consideration -- "will not tolerate acts that intend to harm the Islamic establishment."

Defying all the pressure, opposition leaders have called for fresh street protests on February 20.

compiled from Radio Farda and agency reports 

Copyright (c) 2011 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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